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Author: Kane Simms

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Learn how to implement voice and conversational AI strategy and conversational automation with VUX World.

Every week, we speak to industry thought leaders and practitioners on the three core pillars of conversational AI: strategy, design and development.

From strategic insights to help you plan for success, to conversation design techniques to create delightful experiences. From how to implement effective solutions to previewing potential technology providers and platforms.

We share the deep details of how the world’s leading organisations are implementing AI so that you can learn to do the same.

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153 Episodes
In this episode, we speak to Laetitia Cailleteau, Managing Director | DATA & AI Europe Lead | Global Lead for Conversational AI at Accenture, about the origins of the patent, the problem it solves, the value of personalised voice experiences and more about what Accenture is up to in AI, and how its thinking about conversational AI's potential to transfer customer experience.LinksConnect with Laetitia Cailleteau on LinkedInMore about Accenture See for privacy and opt-out information.
We take it for granted that, when we talk to our voice assistants, they hear us. When we dictate a message to Siri, it transcribes it. Speech recognition is used in a whole manner of areas beyond voice assistants, too. Transcribing videos on YouTube, PowerPoint, dictation, call transcriptions in contact centres and beyond. But speech recognition systems don't always perform as expected and require training constantly to address bias, new language and dialects.Why do automatic speech recognition systems need training?There are many cases, however, where speech recognition systems either fail, or need training. For example, training speech recognition models to remove bias is a core priority for all speech recognition providers today. Studies have shownthat the major ASR players technologies perform poorly when used by black people, as compared to white people, for example. Addressing this performance gap is of upmost importance.Another reason for training ASR systems is expansion into other countries and to cater to other languages and accents. When Amazon, for example, aims to launch Alexa in, say, Brazil, it needs to train its speech recognition models in the Brazilian language, dialect and accents. Understanding languages, accents and dialects is a core part of making AI accessible to the world, as well as for commercial expansion.Finally, companies need to continue training ASR systems to make sure that new vocabularies and phrases that enter a given language are understood. Prior to 2020, the world wasn't saying the phrases 'COVID', 'COVID 19', 'SARS COV 2' half as much. A few year's prior, Tik Tok wasn't a thing. Language changes, and so ASR systems need to change with it.In this episodeIn this episode, we chat to Esteban Gorupicz, CEO, and Alejandro Heredia, Technology Business Development and Sales, at Atexto about how they help ASR companies train speech recognition systems and tackle the above problems.About AtextoAtexto is one of the world's leading providers in speech recognition training. It's platform allows ASR providers to crowd source training data for speech recognition systems, label and tag the data, then export it to feed into its models. It also has an ASR benchmarking tool, which allows providers to compare performance across ASR systems.LinksCheck out AtextoFind out about the ASR World Championships  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Swisscom, Switzerland's largest telco, has one of the most widespread uses of conversational AI we've seen to date. With voice-enabled set-top-boxes, customer service-based chat and messaging applications, as well as a voice-enabled IVR system for call routing, Swisscom is all-in on voice and conversational AI. Roger Dill heads up the Dialogue Management, AI and ML product and has scaled its efforts from a single chatbot, to a sophisticated multichannel suite of conversational capabilities. Artificial Solutions, the company behind Microsoft-LUIS-powered voice development platform, Teneo, has seen its fair share of enterprise conversational AI deployments. CEO Per Ottosson, formerly IPSoft Amelia, is well versed in the conversational AI space and, given that he's been involved in countless enterprise voice and conversational AI rollouts, including that of Swisscom, has unique perspectives into the trends, strategies and direction of the market. Hear from both Per and Roger about what it takes to scale conversational AI across the business. We cover areas such as:Organisational skills and team requirementsQuantifying and measuring success and the challenges surrounding thatSwisscom's approach to its technology architecture and its modular approachArtificial Solutions' approach to tooling and why developers are key to successful conversational AI deploymentsChallenges you'll face when scaling solutionsConsiderations for those getting startedAnd much, much, much moreLinksConnect with Per Ottosson and Roger Dill on LinkedinTry Teneo  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Sam Danby of joins us to share how to take your conversational AI to the next level using Boost technology, including creating conversational agents from web content, assessing and choosing the right technology such as ASR and NLU, as well as learning and iterating on language models.LinksFollow Sam on Twitter and connect on LinkedInVisit See for privacy and opt-out information.
Marie Kleinert and Ray-Allen Taylor of VUI Agency join us to share some of the methodologies and practices they use to create charismatic voice assistants and how you can do the same.We dive into areas such as:Defining charisma from a voice assistant perspectiveTTS tuning and challengesThe value of creating a personaThe importance of linguistics in conversation designWhen and how to create charismaHow charisma contributes to improving customer experienceLinksCheck out  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Google Cloud's Head of Conversational AI and Contact Center, Antony Passemard, joins us to dive under the hood of Google CCAI; Google's Contact Centre AI product.Antony manages the entire product suite and joins us to share what CCAI is, how it's being used to improve customer experience within contact centres across industries, as well as describing how you can use the tools yourself to streamline service delivery using conversational AI.Running order:00:00:00 Intro00:02:53 About Antony Passemard00:04:16 Does CCAI have a relationship with Google Assistant?00:06:35 Overview of CCAI00:07:20 What drove the need for DialogFlow CX?00:10:42 Can you move from ES to CX?00:11:50 Who is CX for?00:13:00 Core reasons for using DialogFlow CX vs ES00:17:30 Michael Kenny: Will DF CX open up third part integrations for CMS etc?00:19:40 What has CCAI taken from Google Research?00:23:13 BERT: what's it being used for?00:26:10 What is Agent Assist?00:28:50 What does Agent Assist look like and where is it?00:31:04 How is Agent Assist implemented?00:35:00 How will Agent Assist improve over time?00:37:05 How do you approach feature building and roll out?00:41:00 Focus on successful conversations00:42:50 Can you implement Agent Assist on your own?00:47:00 How to implement DialogFlow into contact centres00:52:35 Insights00:57:00 Can you use Insights to find and prioritise use cases?00:58:35 How to measure successful conversations01:05:05 How to find out moreLinksFind out more about Google CCAI  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Voicebots for customer service are in increasing demand, but how do you actually integrate one into a contact centre?Learn how to take an existing chatbot and repurpose it for your contact centre. Many chatbots provide immense value to customers, and many call centres are overwhelmed with demand. Why not offer your chatbot service through your contact centre and help customers self serve, and customer service staff manage demand.Joining us this week is Ilan Avner, Director of Product Management at AudioCodes. Ilan will share how any brand or developer who has existing conversational AI implementations can scale those conversations into ANY contact centre system.We discuss the challenges you'll face when trying to integrate bots into contact centres including how to deal with on-premise vs cloud deployments, security, protocols and standards, timescales and costs. We'll also cover how you can avoid all of the completely by using the AudioCodes Voice AI Connect product.A truly enlightening conversation for anyone who's interested in the practicalities of integrating any kind of bot into contact centres for improving self service and customer experience.LinksCheck out the AudioCodes Voice AI ConnectCatch up on the AudioCodes webinar with VodafoneConnect with Ilan Avner on LinkedIn See for privacy and opt-out information.
As much as voice technology has been hyped over the last few years, perhaps leading to some unrealistic expectations, it's beginning to find its feet in reliably and consistently improving customer service in contact centres. Regardless of hype, voice technology has super-human qualities when applied in a customer services environment and especially, according to today's guest Nikola Mrkšić, CEO and co-founder of London-based PolyAI, when using PolyAI technology.We chat to Nikola about what defines 'super-human' qualities for voice assistants, how the PolyAI technology differs from some of the common providers, why drag and drop tools have limitations, and understand Nikola's perspective on the voice industry overall.LinksVisit PolyAIFollow Nikola Mrkšić on Twitter or LinkedInWebinar on multilingual voice assistants See for privacy and opt-out information.
Tom Hewitson, Founder and CEO,, joins us to share how he built a business on Alexa and Google Assistant, how he finds, keeps hold and monetises users, design best practice and advice for those looking to do the same.In 2017 and 2018, when Amazon Alexa began rolling our in-skill purchasing (ISP), many thought that there'd be a gold rush on the Alexa platform. Business will be built, money will be made and all will be well. It happened with the App Store on mobile, after all.There was two problem that most developers were facing: how do you create something that's good enough to keep users coming back for more, and then how do you create an offer for those users that's worth paying for?Those challenges turned out to be pretty difficult to overcome and, to date, only three companies have managed to reach the levels of success many were aiming for in the Alexa space: Matchbox, with their suite of quizzes and kids games, Invoked apps with it's load of sleep and ambient sounds and, our guest this week, Labworks, with Voice Arcade.One weekend, wanting to explore Alexa for investigatory purposes, in case any clients were to ask about it in future, Tom Hewiston, founder of then-chatbot agency, Labworks, set about building a game.After launching the game and pretty much forgetting about it, some months later, Tom received a call from Amazon. Turns out, Tom's game was the third most popular game on the Alexa platform. Amazon were starting to pay developers for having popular skills as an incentive for them to continue improving skills and developing new skills.These rewards were enough for Tom to employ someone to help build out more games. Labworks pivoted from building chatbots for clients and into building games for Alexa and the rest is history.We chat to Tom about his journey, what he's learned, his thoughts on the industry and advice for others looking to build successful skills and actions on Alexa and Google Assistant.Here's the running order:00:02:50​ About Tom Hewitson and Labworks.io00:05:50​ Last year's Alexa skills usage00:09:30​ Was it good timing to launch Voice Arcade?00:11:15​ Ten hot takes on voice: what's changed in voice since 2019?00:13:00​ What's changed for the better?00:15:20​ Developer rewards: how helpful were they?00:19:15​ What works and what doesn't for in-skill purchasing?00:20:00​ What's the difference in typical ISPs vs Voice Arcade?00:22:15​ Challenges with ISPs, offering more value than you're asking for in return00:24:30​ How are you showing value?00:26:00​ Vishnu Saran: How are you solving discoverability?00:30:40​ Marek Mis: Advice for hobbyist voice devs wanting to go pro?00:33:40​ Is there much experimentation left?00:38:40​ How do you prioritise and test features?00:40:55​ Any new platform features you're excited about?00:43:00​ Matt Buck: Have you thought about putting your games in apps or on web?00:47:09​ Katy Boungard: Brand identity and sonic branding00:49:20​ Richard Warzecha: Discovering features within skills00:50:00​ How much time is spent on happy path vs everything else?00:55:44​ Manual testing vs code testing00:57:05​ Example of something that took a lot of iteration to get right00:58:35: Richard Warzecha: Transferable principles from games to other voice experiences01:03:00​ Tooling and Jovo01:04:00​ General takeaways and contact detailsLinksLabworks.ioFollow Tom Hewitson on TwitterJoin Tom Hewitson on LinkedInSay "Alexa, open Voice Arcade"Say "Hey Google, open Voice Arcade" See for privacy and opt-out information.
Derek Roberti is the VP Technology, North America, at Cognigy, based in California. He joins us to share his insights and observations on using conversational AI automation in the enterprise for automating service delivery. We chat to Derek about:Cognigy and its historyDemocratising AIThe need for market education The balance between technical capability and ease of use in conversational AI toolsMarrying conversational AI with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)Whether conversational AI tools will convergeHow and if we'll see conversational automation within voice assistantsLinksVisit Cognigy.comConnect with Derek Roberti on Linkedin See for privacy and opt-out information.
Nate Brown is the Chief Experience Officer at Officium Labs, world-leading CX consultancy. He joins us to share how a customer-centric culture shaped around customer feedback can create the conditions and insights needed to build products and services that customers love. The exact same methodologies and practices can feed directly into your conversational automation strategy to make sure you're consistently meeting customer needs.At the same time, the data and insights you produce from the automated conversations you have with customers can be like gold dust, and can be fed back into the voice of the customer operation in the rest of the business.We chat with Nate about:The value of a voice of the customer strategyThe importance of staff feedbackVoice of the customer processThe listening pathEmpowerment and actionSentiment vs intentImplementation challengesLinksOfficium LabsConnect with Nate Brown on LinkedIn See for privacy and opt-out information.
When it comes to making customer interactions with conversational AI more human-like, there's often one thing missing. Emotion.We chat to Nico Perony about how is being used to understand emotion and sentiment of users in order for businesses to create more compelling customer experiences.Married with conversational AI, bots can be more sensitive to the caller based on their emotional state and even do things like escalate calls to an agent based on an angry customer response.It's also being used to support agents in call centres to appraise tone and improve how agents speak with customers, as well as in gaming applications to detect abuse and toxicity and escalate occurrences to moderators.There is huge potential for this technology, not only in automating customer experience in a more human-like way, but also to gather insights from customer and staff voice relations and use it to improve the quality of service offered.We also continued this discussion on Clubhouse afterwards. Follow @kanesimms on Clubhouse for more open ended after show discussions.LinksVisit OTO.aiConnect with Nico on LinkedIn See for privacy and opt-out information.
When I was on the Voicebot podcast, Bret asked me whether we're going through a voice first winter. I said that I didn't think so, nor did I really care. There are opportunities to do good work and enhance people's lives regardless. However, there has been an undercurrent in pockets of the industry where some folks are becoming frustrated that voice hasn't reached its potential (however you define that).Over the past few weeks, founder of WitLingo, Ahmed Bouzid was involved in a conversation at the popular VoiceLunchmeet where a participant stated that:‘Beyond the weather, time, and the occasional timer and alarm,’ they mused out loud, ‘am I myself really using my Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant that much in my life? I mean, really and honestly, am I? No, actually, not really…. So, if I am not using them that much and yet I am such a believer in Voice First, what hope is there for the rest of the world?’He wrote a piece summarising his thoughts. This coincided with a post from founder, John Kelvie's post claiming voice is stuck.The primary questions raised in both of these two pieces are:Is voice living up to its promise?Where is the true value in voice first?Has there been enough improvement in the technology and ecosystem to support its own ecosystem like the App Store?To debate this, we brought along founder Bret Kinsella, together with Ahmed and John to figure out where we actually stand and where we need to go next. We also continued this discussion on Clubhouse afterwards. Follow @kanesimms on Clubhouse for more open ended after show discussions.LinksRead voicebot.aiCheck out WitLingo and BespokenRead Voice is stuckRead The #VoiceFirst User Interface Has a Use Case Fit ProblemRead Voice first sucksFollow Ahmed, John and Bret on TwitterConnect with Ahmed, John and Bret on LinkedIn See for privacy and opt-out information. is a cutting edge synthetic voice (text-to-speech) provider that allows anyone or any brand to create their own, customer TTS solution to use across any and all channels. From IVR, Alexa and Google Assistant to narrating videos and marketing materials and even voicing game characters. With just 50 lines of speech, you could have your own dedicated brand voice that brings a consistent and elevated customer experience to your conversational applications. With quicker-than-real-time processing, the low latency capabilities makes having a conversation with a assistant as natural as can be.In this episode of VUX World, we're joined by founder and CEO, Zohaib Ahmed, to discuss the work Resemble is doing to help brands create stand-out conversational experiences. We discuss what Resemble is and how it works, the value of having your own custom voice, the use cases and applications it's being used for, the process for creating, the editing and publishing tools for customising intonation and emotion, as well as the ethical considerations around voice cloning, fraud and deep fakes.00:00 Intro02:55 About Zohaib Ahmed and Resemble.ai04:47 What are people using for today?07:37 How much dialogue is needed to create a TTS voice?08:27 Voice Talent Pool: what's that?11:50 Bondad: How far off are we from high quality rendering at run time with low latency?14:00 What's the process for creating a custom brand voice?17:00 Are call centres cloning staff voices?19:00 An alternative approach from a branded assistant21:10 Ethics of voice cloning24:20 Resemblyzer and tackling speaker verification27:40 Matthew James-Dewstowe: Can you tweak the voice once its created?31:40 Jay Ruparel: How do you handle dynamic speech and keep the voice integrity?37:40 Sean Thornton: Predicting emotion41:00 Heidi Cohen: Regionalisation and localisation44:45 Real time translation of speech48:20 Jay Ruparel: Thoughts on filler words like 'um', 'ah' etc51:37 Proving the value and ROI01:00:40 Where can people find out more about Resemble.aiLinksVisit Follow on TwitterZohaib Ahmed on Twitter and LinkedIn See for privacy and opt-out information.
Mihai Antonescu joins us to discuss the history of voice at Mercedes, the origins of the HeyMercedes voice assistant and the process for building it.You'll also learn tips and tricks that'll help you put together your approach to creating your own assistant, as well as how to understand and measure the business value voice assistants can bring.Mihai asked us before the show to challenge him with our questions, and we certainly hope we did.LinksConnect with Mihai Antonescu on LinkedIn or Twitter See for privacy and opt-out information.
Justin Randall, Chief Innovation Officer at Comwave, one of Canada's largest independent telco companies, joins us to share his experiences of designing, building and implementing a Google DialogFlow agent in the contact centre.We'll cover the drivers for doing it, the process he followed, the things he learned and advice for doing the same.Timestamps00:00 Intro04:30 About Justin Randall and Comwave10:30 Replacing the IVR12:23 What can 'Penny' do?13:39 How do you determine success for your conversational AI19:30 Understanding where you should start21:50 Who manages the updates and maintenance?23:20 Glen Ritchie: What KPIs do you use for your conversational AI?26:15 How much time is spent defining requirements?27:44 Heidi Cohen: What books and resources would you recommend?29:29 John Novak: Do you use a tree structure like in IVR?32:23 Deymi Campos: How fast can you deploy a change in your conversational AI?35:50 What does your automated testing set up look like?40:24 Andrew Francis: Are you using the DialogFlow Telephone Gateway?43:45 Deymi Campos: Sometimes different TFNs need different config, do you have this feature?45:15 Georgios Tserdanelis: Did you design a persona for Penny or use a custom voice?48:37 jusfc: Is Penny available as a chatbot as well?51:10 Advice for people starting out in their conversational AI journey56:00 Closing thoughts from JustinLinks/booksConnect with Justin RandallCognitive Virtual Assistants Using Google DialogflowVoice Applications for Alexa and Google Assistant (Manning)Designing Voice User Interfaces (O'Reilly)Designing Bots (O'Reilly) See for privacy and opt-out information.
With almost all call centres looking to us AI to automate an increasing number of conversations with customers, what does the future of customer service look like? And what's the future of work going to look like for your staff? What can you do today to prepare for an AI-first future, both from a customer experience and staffing perspective?Lots of big questions will need answering in 2021, and to get you started, we're joined by Head of Vonage AI, Noam Fine, to answer those questions and more about the future of customer service, the future of customer experience and the future of work for CS agents and managers.LinksVonage AIConnect with Noam Fine on LinkedIn See for privacy and opt-out information.
Dan joins us to share his insights on the most important recent developments in voice AI technology and how it's enabling business transformation, as well as some of the emerging trends we're likely to see unfold in 2021.Voice AI is disrupting all kinds of industries and providing opportunities for almost every and any business unit. None, perhaps, has the potential to prosper more than the contact centre.With the potential to automate front end conversations and assist live agents, conversational AI could be the underlying capability that enables organisations to both increase self-service and improve customer experience, while creating operational efficiencies and empowering staff.Dan Miller, Lead Analyst and Founder of Opus Research, has more than his fair share of experience both with contact centre technology and speech technology on the whole. For over 30 years, Dan's been working with and covering voice AI and conversational technologies with a focus on organisational transformation.Linksopusresearch.netFollow Dan on Twitter See for privacy and opt-out information.
One of the hot topics on every UX designer's lips is conversation design. How do you do it? Is it something I can do? And what skill sets do I currently have that put me in a good position?Stuart Silverstein, season UX and service designer, also has deep experience in designing conversational user interfaces, from messenger applications to voice bots and IVR assistants.Stuart joins us to walk through his learning journey with voice AI and discusses how UX designers can incorporate conversation design and VUX into their existing skillsets.We also chat about the differences and similarities between traditional UX design and VUX design, as well as the value of voice, and the potential for voice AI to revolutionise the contact centre.SPONSORED BY THE CONVERSATION DESIGN INSTITUTECompanies around the world are looking for conversation designers, a rare breed of people to help them advance communication between people and AI. That's where we help!Conversation Design Institute leads in training and certification for Conversation Designers, Conversational Copywriters, and AI Trainers. Our human-centric workflow has proven itself around the world. Our certificates ensure you create winning conversational experiences.As advocates for the Conversation Design profession, we continue to work closely with tech partners, agencies and other key players in the industry. With this support, Conversation Design Institute is well on its way to becoming the number one platform in conversation design.Save 25% with code CDI972VUX25OFFFIND OUT Stuart Silverstein on Medium Stuart on LinkedIn Stuart on Facebook See for privacy and opt-out information.
Voice commerce: the state of playWe've been speaking about the potential of voice first devices to change shopping behaviour and drive sales and engagement for a while. I wrote about it in the Harvard Business Review over a year ago. Yet, we're not seeing a huge amount of use cases executed. So are people actually using their voice assistants to shop? And, if so, what can brands do about it?Vixen Labs commissioned a unique, UK-centric consumer research report to understand the current state of play when it comes to voice shopping. What assistants are people using? What are the using them for? How are their shopping habits changing and what role is voice playing? And, crucially, what does it mean for brands and those with something to sell? Co-founder and CEO, James Poulter, returns to the podcast to share all.SPONSORED BY THE CONVERSATION DESIGN INSTITUTECompanies around the world are looking for conversation designers, a rare breed of people to help them advance communication between people and AI. That's where we help!Conversation Design Institute leads in training and certification for Conversation Designers, Conversational Copywriters, and AI Trainers. Our human-centric workflow has proven itself around the world. Our certificates ensure you create winning conversational experiences.As advocates for the Conversation Design profession, we continue to work closely with tech partners, agencies and other key players in the industry. With this support, Conversation Design Institute is well on its way to becoming the number one platform in conversation design.Save 25% with code CDI972VUX25OFFFIND OUT MORELinksDownload the Vixen Labs Voice Commerce ReportConnect with James on LinkedInFollow Vixen Labs on Twitter See for privacy and opt-out information.
Comments (2)

Preeti Sharma_Career guide

Very nice article! I'm Preeti, I write for educational blogs. I make a collection of wonderful educational blogs from where I could take inspiration for writing. This article really inspires me though it is a little different from my domain but nonetheless it is a good writing. I sometime write for a education site blogs Let me know your thoughts if I could contribute to your blog too.

Apr 12th

Preeti Sharma_Career guide

Very nice article! I'm Preeti, I write for educational blogs. I make a collection of wonderful educational blogs from where I could take inspiration for writing. This article really inspires me though it is a little different from my domain but nonetheless it is a good writing. I sometime write for a education site blogs Let me know your thoughts if I could contribute to your blog too.

Apr 12th
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